Activist investor Bluebell adds pressure on Glencore to fix coal unit

Impunzi coal mine in South Africa. (Image courtesy of Glencore.)

Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners has again asked Glencore Plc to overhaul its climate policy, while seeking support from other shareholders to push for reform at the commodities giant.

London-based Bluebell wants Glencore to put forward a plan at next year’s annual meeting to separate its coal activities, according to a June 8 letter. Bluebell also asked for more detail on the firm’s pathway to net zero and for an independent chairman of the health and safety, environmental and communities committee.

“We are trying to create a consensus on what needs to be done by Glencore,” Bluebell partner Giuseppe Bivona told Bloomberg News.

Bluebell’s move follows its campaign launched last year asking Glencore to separate its thermal coal business, simplify its asset base and tackle governance issues. Bluebell, which manages about $250 million, declined to disclose the size of its stake but said Glencore was one of its largest bets.

“Glencore is not an investable company for investors who place sustainability at the heart of their investment process,” Bluebell said in its latest statement. “From a valuation perspective, coal activities are depressing the company’s valuation.”

Glencore is the world’s biggest shipper of coal — the most polluting fuel — and has promised to run that business to closure by 2050, saying the world still needs thermal coal and it’s the most responsible operator of those assets.

That position has faced growing dissent, with its climate progress report securing the support of about 76% of investors at April’s annual meeting after several advisory firms recommended voting against the company. About 94% had supported the group’s climate report a year earlier.

A Glencore spokesman reiterated the firm’s comments from April that while its climate change strategy was supported by the majority of shareholders, it will continue to engage with investors to ensure their views are fully understood.

Coal was among Glencore’s most profitable businesses last year — and is set to reap bumper profits again this year — as the global energy crunch and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices to record highs.

(By Nishant Kumar and Thomas Biesheuvel)


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